Heirlooms of the heart

As I wrote in my last blog “A misspent youth” my brothers and I had the better part of a year to help our parents clear out many of the belongings that they’d stored up over the previous forty odd years on their farm.  Not being an “heirloom kind of guy” I didn’t really cherish this task.  I wondered to myself “why” I didn’t want some pieces of Mom and Dad’s estate, while other pieces held great interest and sentimental value. 

Mom and Dad bought an old farm-house on a small acreage in 1968 for themselves and their young three sons.  It had no indoor toilet, no furnace and no “curb appeal“.  I was only two at the time so I don’t remember much of this, but thank God they owned a super eight movie camera and recorded much of these early “farm house times.”  The house had previously been a stage-coach stop as well, with small rooms for overnight travelers.  Needless to say, I grew up around antiques….lot’s of them...maybe that’s why I don’t really have a fond spot in my heart for them.  Long story short, I found myself picking and choosing kind of weird things from the estate that I wanted and my brothers consented.


These two bottles were found inside one of the walls of my childhood home. They’re old beer bottles from a brewer in Davenport IA. The axe or hammer heads were found somewhere near where my Mom grew up. To me…they’re all fascinating.

I wanted stuff that I spent a lot of time with and since I spent a lot of time outside as a kid I had some sort of weird emotional attachment to unconventional antiques.  I found myself wanting stuff from their garage, the barn, the hog farrowing house and other buildings.  I brought home pick-up truck load after pick-up truck load of tools, old farm supply stuff, old sports equipment, old toys and the like.  As long as I kept it out of our house, my wife was fine with it.

Old fruit crates make good shadow boxes for the miscellaneous things that I wanted from the farm.

At one time I had over three hundred different beer cans in my collection. Grain Belt, Hamm’s, Falstaff, Pabst Blue Ribbon…all the classics. This is all that remains. (sounds of quiet crying)

At the twelve o’clock position and moving clockwise. “The Ripley’s” sign went wherever my grandparents went with their RV trailer; fish basket, Dad’s old racing helmet; “church keys”, old pop bottles; Dad’s old tackle box; three steel telescoping kids fishing poles for us boys.

An old steel minnow bucket holds a photo of a trip that Mom, Dad and I took to Minnesota. That’s Lake Itasca in the background.

Old petroleum and auto stuff. Need a brand new headlight for a 1979 Ford Granada? I got one (left side, behind the bottle of Turtle Wax)

Who doesn’t need five oil cans, three never been used headlights, a fan belt and some assorted toy gas trucks?

My work bench, old license plates and some “old” reproduction signs. Can you tell me which one is the real old sign?

“My” trusty Daisy lever-action BB gun. Shared between three brothers, it kept the Nazi’s and other Axis powers from eastern Iowa in the 1970’s.

Does an old Prince Albert tobacco tin and Durant Polka Fest button from 1976 hold any value? Only to me. Grandpa Ripley smoked Prince Albert in his pipe and my brother was always traveling over to Durant to woo Muscatine Counties prettiest girls. The details of him ever learning to polka are sketchy at best.

So there you have it…a brief view of what I like to reminisce with.  I see it every morning when I back my truck out of the garage and see it every time I pull in, in the evening.  It’s a touchstone, mostly ignored, but at times….I’ll just walk along the inside of the garage and these pieces take me back to my childhood, and a terrific one at that.

What things “take you back” to your childhood?


5 thoughts on “Heirlooms of the heart

  1. Oh what a collection! I can see why you kept these “things” — what takes me back to my childhood are old license plates; Dad had a collection of them on the wall in his “shop.” Used to be that you just got a new plate every year then we went to the tag system. I have a few of his old Saskatchewan farm truck plates from the 20s 🙂

    I’m guessing the authentic old sign is the one in the middle, “Symbol of Savings Chevrolet?”

    And I couldn’t miss the dinosaur!

    Great post 🙂 MJ

    • Mom had some older license plates but couldn’t find them…like from the 1920’s (AAARRRRGGGHHH!!!) That would have been cool.

      The oldest sign was the “Mobil Regular” sign. The rest, from a Mall in Ohio, I still like them though. 🙂

      LOL….I can’t believe that you picked out the dinosaur. I put it up there since I was led to believe that “all oil is from dinosaur bones” as a kid (it’s not…right?) I have a toy crane that has a toy “jackass” in it’s bucket that’s “hee-hawing”. The crane represents God, large and strong–holding me-despite my big mouth and less than intelligent behavior. I took a couplea photos of that, but thought “Nobody will ‘get that'”.

      Thanks for checking in.

  2. What takes me back are all the little things from my Grandma’s place in Canada…an antique washboard, family pictures, old picture frames, antique linens, old books, old china, a brick made by her grandfather in the mid-1800s…the list is endless.
    Great post! 🙂

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